The National Board of Revenue (NBR) on Tuesday (Aug 22) officially launched the Electronic Fiscal Device Management System (EFDMS) in a significant step towards enhancing transparency and expediting revenue collection in the country. Private firm Genex Infosys Limited will oversee the implementation of this system across diverse business establishments, serving as a pivotal support for VAT collection within commercial enterprises. The initial deployment of devices in Dhaka and Chattogram will enable seamless VAT collection from customers, alongside efficient storage and management. This endeavor will also streamline VAT returns for entrepreneurs. Notably, the system has been seamlessly integrated into NBR's servers, facilitating direct oversight of VAT payments and collections.
The formal inauguration of the EFDMS was held on Tuesday at the National Board of Revenue (NBR) Building in the capital's Agargaon area. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal spoke at the function as the chief guest presided over by Abu Hena Md. Rahmatul Muneem, Senior Secretary of the Internal Resources Division (IRD) and Chairman of the NBR. Finance Division Senior Secretary Fatima Yasmin, FBCCI President Mahbubul Alam, NBR Member (VAT Implementation and IT) Dr. Moinul Khan and acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Genex Infosys Limited Shah Jalal Uddin spoke, among others, on the occasion, local media reported.
Speaking on the occasion, the finance minister said that this EFDMS would expedite further the pace of revenue collection in the country. He said that as part of the government's commitment to bring reforms in the revenue sector, collection of VAT through EFDs was launched on pilot basis in the FY21.
Noting that countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have already ensured automation in the VAT collection method, Kamal said that the revenue board would have to deliver its best to bring much more discipline in the collection system. "The businessmen have also expressed their keenness in our endeavors," he said urging the media to extend their cooperation in creating mass awareness among country's people towards paying tax and VAT.
Highlighting the different socio-economic successes and achievements of the country over the last 15 years, Kamal said that the overall GDP size has increased by four and a half times during this period while Bangladesh has now become the 35th economy of the world which was in the 68th position in 2009. He mentioned that the per capita income has now risen to $2,793 from $686 while the inward remittance has increased to a record $21.7 billion in 2020. Besides, the national budget size for FY24 increased to around Tk 7,62,000 crore.
The finance minister said the revenue board would continue to collect tax, but it has to be ensured that no taxpayer is harassed. "We'll have to widen the tax net...all the barriers will be removed in the coming days, Insha Allah."
NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem said that the NBR launched the EFD machines on pilot basis in August 2020 to collect VAT in the retail level. He said with the current level of manpower at the NBR, it is not possible to collect VAT through EFD machines across the country, for which the decision was taken to accomplish the task through outsourcing.
Muneem said based on the successes of the current operations of EFDMS, its operations would be expanded outside of Dhaka and Chattogram. He said although the revenue board collects tax from income tax, VAT and customs, but the share of VAT would continue to grow usually.
Terming the EFDMS as an excellent initiative of the NBR, Senior Secretary of the Finance Division Fatima Yasmin said it is quite usual that the financial management would have to be smart for building 'Smart Bangladesh'. In this regard, she mentioned that the government has launched automated chalan and made savings certificates paperless.
FBCCI President Mahbubul Alam said that the business community of the country wants to pay tax and VAT without any harassment. "For this, there is no alternative for automation." Terming this EFDMS as an effective step for both the NBR and the business community, Mahbubul said that the business community would work with the government to move ahead the country's economy.
"The businessmen will get benefits if there is full automation. But, the revenue board will have to consider the issue of not harassing the businessmen. For this, there is a need to create awareness," added the FBCCI president.
Shah Jalal Uddin, acting Managing Director and CEO of Genex Infosys Limited said, "The digital transformation of VAT management will not only boost government revenues but also propel the nation towards heightened economic prosperity. EFDMS is poised to enhance productivity and ensure meticulous accounting practices within businesses." He said the initial plan is to deploy 60,000 devices in Dhaka and Chattogram within this fiscal year (2023-24) and to deploy another three lakh EFDMS machines over the next five years. "This acceleration will further expedite the journey towards a Smart Bangladesh."
Later, the finance minister along with other guests officially launched the operations of EFDMS.
Notably, VAT currently accounts for nearly 40 percent of the country's total revenue. The EFDMS implementation mandate encompasses twenty-five sectors, including departmental stores, wholesalers, and hospitality establishments.